Digital technology is dramatically transforming every industry, changing the way companies service customers, make products, manage operations, and engage and support their workforces. But while the rest of the business-and the rest of the world-is proceeding with the digital revolution, it's still looming on the horizon for many business process outsourcing (BPO) buyers and service providers.
Recent Accenture-sponsored research from HfS found that most BPO engagements operate in an environment of low expectations when it comes to technology innovation and, as a result, are not delivering the kind of value they should. Two-thirds of today's engagements remain in an analogue model of "lift and shift," where existing processes are merely transferred to an external provider with little added value in terms of technology or innovation. Yet, half expect to undertake a wide-scale transformation of their business processes within the next two years. The increased use of digital technologies and platforms will be key for delivering this transformation.
So how can BPO buyers and providers take advantage of the opportunities that innovative digital technologies offer? Those who have made this leap are using technology to achieve significantly higher value results. They're automating standardised processes and workflows, enabling processing in the cloud, optimising analytics, and embracing mobility for rapid implementation and payback. Four key components are needed for high-performance digital operations and business services:
- Architect for resilience. The digital platform is where intelligence is leveraged and insights moved around the organisation. Dynamic, accessible, easy to use, and continuously available in the cloud, it must have the ability to respond rapidly to changing customer, technology and marketplace developments. New innovations in hyperscale systems offer opportunities to adapt business process services to take advantage of the increased processing capabilities at lower costs. With more business processes interconnected and automated - resulting in shortened development cycles, increasing the frequency of updates and the likelihood of cyber-attacks - service providers must focus even more on building secure, scalable, agile, and easy-to-deploy systems.
- Provide real-time digital insights. Advanced analytics technologies enable buyers and service providers to overcome traditional reporting capabilities that merely reveal what happened. Predictive analysis can move a business from a reactive to a proactive state, allowing buyers to look around the bend to see what's coming next. Digital operations enable the use of both internal and external data, providing a richer context for interpretation and action. This means taking data from being siloed and unmanaged to becoming more integrated across the enterprise. By adding mobility to the mix, new kinds of productivity improvements open up to buyers.
- Connect the digital workforce. A digital workforce platform can transform how work is conducted and changes the nature of the work in a way that heavily influences employee engagement and retention. It can optimise workflows, automate key work steps, and digitise data, incorporating analytics and making enhanced information available through digital workflow tools. Workers have access to collaboration tools and social media channels as and when needed, enabling the workforce to become connected knowledge workers that can make higher-level contributions.
- Embrace the digital innovation ecosystem. Neither BPO buyer nor service providers can sustain high performance without relying on others across the business and technology ecosystem. This enables both parties to know what new tools and technologies are available or in development that may improve productivity and time to results. In addition to being open to established partners and vendors, and the "usual suspects" from the IT and business worlds, relationships across the broader ecosystem of research institutions, universities and governments agencies can provide a competitive edge.
All roads lead to digital operations. To transform from analogue to digital, organisations must integrate new technologies in order to reinvent themselves. By doing so, they will achieve measurable business outcomes and a competitive edge in the marketplace - moving from digitally disrupted to a digital disrupter.
Posted by By Liv Sandbaek, group technology officer, Accenture Operations